Oparanozie Strikes Late As Falcons Retain AWCON Title
By Andah John
The Super Falcons are African champions for the eighth time after a 1-0 win over hosts Cameroon in a keenly contested final of the 2016 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations.
Desire Oparanozie ensured Nigeria got what they desired, as she coolly slot home in the 85th minute to silence the fans at the packed Ahmadu Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde on Saturday.
It was the third time the Lionesses would go down to the Falcons in the final of Africa’s biggest women competition, following their defeats in the 2004 and 2014 finals.
And the defeat left the Cameroonian ladies devastated, as they were hoping to finally end the Nigeria hoodoo.
But Nigeria’s victory further strengthened their dominance in women’s football on the continent, having won the title in 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2014.
The Lionesses had numerous goal-scoring chances in the first half, but they failed to make them count.
Fans’ favourite Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene and Michele Ngono Mani were guilty of spurning opportunities to put ‘Les Lionnes’ in front.
Jonathan to the rescue
Nigeria’s goalie Alaba Jonathan later denied Ngono Mani in a one-on-one situation in the 34th minute. That happened after Ajara Nchout Njoya had put Mani through.
In the second half, the Cameroonians still could not find a way through the defending champions.
And it was only a matter of time before the Nigerians punished them with their first clear-cut chance at goal.
Heavy hush blankets the Stadium
Lionesses’ captain Christine Manie, in her bid to clear her lines, headed to Oparanozie. The Nigerian striker controlled beautifully before firing past Cameroon goalie Annette Ngo Ndom for the match winner.